WP ‘Jacked’ up for Currie Cup Champions

Western Province will start their quest for 2009 Currie Cup glory with a clash against reigning champions, the Sharks, at Newlands, on Saturday afternoon.

The Newlands outfit have by this time forgotten what the Currie Cup looks like as almost a decade has past since they last lifted the coveted gold jug.

Province last won the competition in 2001 when they defeated the Sharks 29-24, thanks to the heroic efforts of flyhalf Braam van Straaten who netted 24 points at Newlands in the final.

Since then Province have not even made it to a final, but despite this trophy-less period the ‘Streeptruie’ are still the most successful team in Currie Cup  history as 32-time winners.

But the lack of success in recent years does not sit well with die hard Province fans – and the failures of the Stormers have merely added to their woes.

The Newlands bigwigs are acutely aware of their team’s fall from grace and have literally decided to jack up their quest for Currie Cup glory by signing the great All Black second rower, Chris Jack, for their 2009 campaign.

Jack (pictured) had his first training session with Province on Monday and made a good impression on coach Allister Coetzee.

With Springbok lock Andries Bekker on the injury list, Jack will not have much experience alongside him and he’ll probably feel the heat at scrum time when the Sharks will be propped up by a front-row made up of Deon Carstens, Skipper Badenhorst and Jannie du Plessis, not to mention a second combination of Steven Sykes and Johann Muller.

Jack would have had an ideal partner in Adriaan Fondse, but he is still on the injury list along with Conrad Jantjes, George Earle, Conraad Britz, Hilton Lobberts, Nick Koster, JC Kritzinger, Deon Fourie and Dylan des Fountain.

Other notable absentees from the Province squad are Jean de Villiers, who is with the Springboks, Schalk Burger – suspended – and Gio Aplon is with the SA Sevens squad.

Apart from Jack, Province have also signed the experienced former Bulls centre Frikkie Welsh to offset the loss of Gcobani Bobo, who has winged his way to the English Premiership to join the Newcastle Falcons.

The lone Springbok squad member released to Province is Ricky Januarie, but he’s been out of form and will have to rely on goodwill and reputation to at least get a seat on the substitutes’ bench on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenhage is far and away the leading scrumhalf at this stage with Conrad Hoffman making excellent progress after a long injury lay off.

Province are waiting to hear if star loose forward Duane Vermeulen will be available after he picked up a hand injury against the British and Irish Lions a fortnight ago.

Hooker Schalk Brits (England) and utility back Wylie Human (France) have both parted ways with Province to pursue opportunities abroad.

The Currie Cup team to play the Sharks will be announced at the team’s training headquarters in Bellville on Wednesday.

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